Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Car-Free in Tennessee (if memory serves) Day 6

I've discovered that, quickly enough, even riding the bus with all the unknowns involved, will become routine. I figure there's no point in writing about a day that sounds very similar to the experiences of the day before so I'll only write updates when something unusual happens.
Today is Wednesday. No bus rides yet this week. We walked to the grocery store and library yesterday (walking home with 20 pounds of dog food!). Today is homeschool park day. I would have us be getting ready to run to the bus but tonight Declan and I have a meeting at 6:10, Hammy has to return D's tux to the shop by 5:30 and can't pick us up at the park and trying to ride the bus home would just complicate everyone's schedule, so we're staying home.
Tomorrow, we're meeting all our friends who did cooperative homeschool classes this year at a fun play-place, and it appears we'll have to do a lot of walking to get there in time due to the way the buses run.

Last Monday a really surprising and nice thing happened at the bus stop. The boys and I left at 8:15 to catch the 8:45; we got there a few minutes early and there was a young woman waiting, talking on her cell phone. A fancy cadillac pulled in the parking lot, a window rolled down and a woman inside called the young woman over. The woman in the car handed the young woman a $20 bill and told her to get a bus pass. She then called me over and offered one to me. Foolishly, I thanked her and told her I didn't need it (I had enough for the bus and to buy lunch that day) and said to save it for the next person (she looked a little disgruntled at my refusal). The young woman immediately called someone and told them what had happened and said she'd been sitting, praying for some solution to how she was going to get across town as she only had enough bus fare for the one trip. Then, while we were on the bus, she was on the phone calling managers of jobs she'd filled out applications for, seeing if they were setting up interviews.
I'm still very moved by the gift that stranger gave the girl (an hand up) and to me (a reminder of kindness and generosity).

Later, I bumped into a woman I've known for 19 years and haven't seen in several. I first met her when I began volunteering for a nonprofit organization that serves clients with an incarcerated family member. When we met, she had 4 daughters between the ages of 1 and 9. Later, she had a son who is the age of my oldest. We became friends (as much as people can when there are the kinds of discrepancies in our backgrounds and lives). A few years ago I worked as volunteer coordinator and children's program director for that same organization and got to know her daughters as young women. See her on the bus was an opportunity to catch up, which was nice, but also, later, depressing. Her life is as chaotic as it had been all those years ago. Her son is in a youth detention center, her husband is doing time for murder. She now has 4 grandchildren (her youngest daughter is the only of her children to have been graduated from high school and recently had a baby). She's still working at fast food restaurants, as do all her children. It was very sad and frustrating to me that all the times I "helped" her find a job, a new apartment, get job training, etc. she never learned to live without chaos. I understand the dynamics but it just makes me sad that her daughters, who were such bright, sweet children, learned to pattern their lives on crisis-like that's the only consistent thing, the only familiar they know and can be comfortable with.
Anyway, if I'd taken the $20 from the caddy lady, I could have passed it on to my friend as she clearly needed it.
Lesson learned. Never turn down a kindness: If I don't need it I can always pass it on.

No comments: